- Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 22 million virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets and glasses will be sold in 2018, with fivefold growth to 121 million units in 2022.
- Smartphone VR will account for the bulk of the sales volume, but value lies in dedicated VR devices, which will account for 63 percent of the total market value of $9.9 billion in 2022.
- AR smart glasses for consumers have encouraging potential, particularly if a large consumer electronics firm such as Apple decides to enter the market.
- Enterprise adoption of VR and AR remains an important element, but it will take many years to deliver meaningful volumes of sales.
The latest forecast published by technology research firm CCS Insight shows the worldwide market for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) head-worn devices growing by an average of 50 percent annually over the next five years. In 2022, a total of 121 million units will be sold, with a value of $9.9 billion.
George Jijiashvili, CCS Insight's senior analyst for wearables, comments, "Virtual reality headsets have been the main source of growth in unit sales to date, and we expect this will continue, particularly headsets that use a smartphone. However, we expect stand-alone headsets like the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Focus to ignite a new wave of growth that will help broaden the appeal of virtual reality, particularly with businesses and in education".
Gaming remains the primary reason for sales of VR devices and this is unlikely to change over the next few years. CCS Insight's consumer research shows that nearly 70 percent of customers who own a dedicated VR headset such as an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Sony PlayStation VR have bought games for it, and more than half of smartphone VR headset owners have bought games for their device.
Jijiashvili notes, "There's a growing array of exciting new content being developed. We were encouraged to see in our latest consumer survey that virtual tourism, remote participation in events such as music concerts, and virtual social interactions are all emerging as further uses for virtual reality. Watching video is also proving popular, particularly on smartphone-based headsets".
AR smart glasses also feature prominently in CCS Insight's forecast. As Jijiashvili states, "Given augmented reality is one of the hottest new technology areas in smartphones, it's not surprising that interest is mounting in augmented reality glasses. Billions of dollars are being invested in this technology and we've seen significant improvements in the size, weight and design of smart glasses over the past 12 months".
However, CCS Insight's forecast signals disappointingly low adoption of smart glasses to date, particularly among businesses. CCS Insight estimates that just 24,000 AR smart glasses were purchased by business in 2017. Jijiashvili comments, "The potential of this technology is clear, but so far most companies are evaluating a few units to see how the technology fits into their operations".
However, CCS Insight predicts that over the next few years businesses will move from limited trials to wider deployment, with sales reaching a milestone of 1 million units in 2022.
CCS Insight expects consumer smart glasses to develop differently from enterprise-centric products. The research firm believes that consumer demand for smart glasses could build in a similar manner to other new smart products. Jijiashvili notes, "We're encouraged by the technology developments in smart glasses for consumers. Products such as Intel's Vaunt glasses are a clear signal of the direction these devices are moving in, with a design little different from a pair of standard prescription glasses. It only takes a big company like Apple to jump into the market and we could be looking at market of millions of smart glasses in no time at all".
CCS Insight's latest forecast reflects the positive outlook for consumer smart glasses, with sales volume of 4.5 million units predicted in 2022.
More details of CCS Insight's extensive wearables research service can be found at: https://www.ccsinsight.com/our-services/wearables
Notes to editors
CCS Insight is a leading provider of wearables-related research. Its virtual reality and augmented reality device forecast covers several product segments, including smartphone VR and AR, dedicated VR, AR smart glasses and enhanced AR devices. The forecast presents three scenarios (core, low and high) that plot the effects of different market developments.
This forecast is part of a broader suite of research into VR and AR devices, including an extensive database of over 100 devices in this area, regular reports and monthly updates on the latest announcements, events and news.
About CCS Insight
CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on mobile communications and the Internet. It provides comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @CCSInsight on Twitter or learn more at www.ccsinsight.com.